A Summer Tuesday in Greenwich…

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Yesterday, after a Monday spent at home waiting for a washing machine man who never came (don’t ask), I decided that we were most definitely NOT spending another whole day at home, and that we would stretch restless legs and head over to one of my favourite places in The Big Smoke, Greenwich. Along with my Mum (hi, Mum!), we all ventured over via the DLR (always a bit hit with training-loving F) for a pootle about.

I can never put my finger on what it is about Greenwich that I love so much- the slightly olde worlde feel, the great pubs/cafes/shops, the view of Canary Wharf, The Cutty Sark, the grandeur of the old Naval College… I could go on and on. Adam and I love it so much, that we’re actually ending up here for the evening reception of our wedding next June, where our guests will mill about under the big old ship, whilst waiting to board our party boat (oi oi!), that will spend the evening cruising The Thames.

After a stroll around the river front and watching the eclectic mix of boats chug up and down the river, we headed to the ‘Discover Greenwich’ Museum. Despite having frequented Greenwich many times, we had never actually been in here, but i’m glad we have now, as there is lots for little ones to do, as well as the usual history-fest for keen adults.

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Freddie and Sasha spent a good while playing with some ‘wooden’ (actually foam, but look so much like wood, I’d love to know where you could buy some of these!) building blocks, put out for younger children so the could pretend to be budding Christopher Wrens. My two obviously had no idea who this bloke was, but were giving him a run for his money with a few, er, ‘creations’! What’s great about the museum is it’s officially free to get in, although they encourage a donation of 50p, which is TOTALLY reasonable. There is also a selection of naval-themed dressing up gear from older children, plus a lit up River Thames running through the length of the museum, which seemed to please F!

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After we had to drag Freddie away from here kicking and screaming ( I wish I was kidding), we headed to the main market to have a quick browse before lunch.

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I love the real mix of handmade items on sale, mingling with second hand treasures and almost every different type of food stall under the sun. There’s this stand that sells amazing looking ‘free from’ cakes and muffins, such a breath of fresh air if you’re gluten or dairy-free (the kids and Adam are the latter). I picked up two peach and pecan dairy and wheat-free muffins, although I have to say we weren’t entirely sold on them… Let’s just say F & S didn’t ask for a second bite! This dairy-free lifestyle is taking a while to get used to… I would have loved one of the jumbo chocolate brownies though, they look immense! I’m sure we will be back for a second go.

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I’d packed a picnic for the kiddos, so after grabbing a wrap for myself and Mum, we sat outside the Naval College in the shade, and ate our lunch right beside The Cutty Sark. I still haven’t actually been on the ship yet since it was resurrected after the fire- one for the ‘to-do’ list me thinks!

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Post-grub we said ‘so long’ to this little South East London spot, and hopped on the Thames Clipper boat to London Bridge as a treat for the children.

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S was tired and fell asleep after some boat-induced rage  but Freddie really enjoyed himself. The Clipper boats are probably a better way of experiencing a river trip with tiny children, rather than one of the leisurely open-topped ones, as they are shaded from the sun and are MUCH quicker, preventing preschooler boredom from setting in. Oh, and they are free to under 5s, which is always a bonus!

Greenwich I do love you- as always, we’ll be back soon!

What do you love about Greenwich, if you’ve been before?

 

Messy Play! Painting with trains

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What with the weather being so hot at the moment (London in ‘NO RAIN SHOCKER’!), I’ve been looking for activities that F & S could do outside in the shade. Taking  inspiration from Pinterest, I set up a ‘painting with trains’ activity for my tiny twosome.

Retrieving our ‘tuff spot’ from the garage, I lined it with plain roller paper, and squeezed different coloured blobs of paint around the outside.

Using some of their older, metal trains (these clean up easier than the wooden ones), we put each one in a blob of paint, and then I let both Freddie and Sasha go mad with them on the paper! Freddie was in his element, and being a MASSIVE train fan, was almost beside himself that there was yet again something new that he could do with his beloved trains! Sasha was also keen, and enjoyed mixing the paints up using the trains, before chugging them across the paper.

Whilst I mostly just let them get on with it, we did talk about whether or not the trains were going slowly or quickly and what sort of lines they were making (straight, thick, thin, wiggly, curved…).

Freddie created imaginary games with the trains he was using- at one point they were both having a “race to the rainbow”! I love how something as simple as this can really spark their imaginations.

Painting with trains has been requested every day since. I’m currently weighting up which is messier- this, or our ‘Trams in the snow’ activity!

What messy play do your little ones like in warm weather?

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‘Let Kids Be Kids’

Home Comforts: The Chalkboard Wall

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When we first moved into our house two years ago, we focused on the main building work that the house needed at the time (kitchen, bathroom), and decorating ours and the children’s bedrooms. The hallway got rather neglected until last summer, when we decided the crack on with it as we were fed up coming back to a beautiful home, but walking through doom and gloom to actually get to it!

A fresh coat of white paint, and some new flooring later, and it was looking MUCH better already. I also knew that I really, really wanted a chalkboard wall somewhere, and the end of hall wall by the downstairs bathroom seemed like the perfect choice. We couldn’t hang pictures here due to the bathroom door opening on this space, yet by having the chalkboard here it means we still get some colour and interest. I think nearly every new food delivery guy we’ve ever had comments on the wall, and asks where we got the paint from (Homebase, by the way)! Most importantly, F & S love getting creative with their new wall, although right now I have to monitor chalk use- there have been a few, er, ‘slip ups’ as to where chalk has ended up i.e. not on the wall!

We got our decorator to strip the hall walls and line them anyway before painting, and this wall was no exception. 3 coats later, leave it to dry, and we were away! I was surprised how little paint was actually needed- 1 smallish tin easily surficed. As always, I was over-prepared and bought 3, so ended up giving these away. I find it so hard to judge how much paint we will need, nearly every time. Our garage is full of half-used tins of paint!

There is still a lot more I’d like to do to our hallway, like possibly some wallpaper, and definitely some pictures and a stairway photo wall, and we’ll get there eventually, but it all takes time- even more so with two rascals running about the place!

Mini Montessori! Cleaning Shells Activity

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One of the things I love about summer and being at home with the smalls, is the amount of time we spend outside. As well as their usual toys, I try and find other activities that keep them amused in the fresh air and stop them from killing one another. If you’ve read my blog before you might know that I’m keen on the principles of Montessori, and am keen to build Freddie and Sasha’s practical life skills, and therefore confidence and capability when it comes to having a go at new household activities.

When we went to Brighton several weeks ago, we spent time on the beach there collecting numerous pebbles and shells. They had since been kicking around our sand tray, so I decided to get a couple of buckets of soapy water, an old towel, plus two old toothbrushes, and let F & S clean the shells.

I showed them what they had to do scrubbing-wise, and then encouraged them to lay the shells out on the towel to dry afterwards. After this, I left them alone to get stuck in to their ‘new job’ (as Freddie liked to call it!).

This activity is great for enhancing concentration. Freddie is usually pretty adept at focusing on an activity, but I was quite impressed to see Sasha (normally a total whirlwind when it comes to whipping through as many toys/games/crafts as possible!), spending quite a lot of time scrubbing her shells and taking great care with them. Many people who follow Montessori principles talk about ‘OCCI': Order, Concentration, Coordination, and Independence. Those are qualities children develop naturally by working uninterrupted with practical life activities. They also believe that if children are absorbed in an activity, then you shouldn’t interrupt, and you should allow your child to repeat this activity as many times as they wish.

Something like cleaning shells is also a great leveller for when your kids are fighting/getting over the top, and seemed to have a calming effect on my two- which tends to be much needed by 4pm!

Bake Me! Ridiculously easy dairy-free hazelnut, chocolate and banana loaf

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A few weeks ago, Freddie and Sasha were diagnosed as being cow-dairy intolerant (more on this to follow). Obviously as a family who like their food, and with children who are (thankfully) good eaters, this foray into a dairy-free zone has been a little challenging (wot, no cheese guv?!), although we are starting to get used to it.

Luckily, I’m not afraid to don my pinny and give something new a bash, so the other weekend, I decided to give my version of a dairy-free chocolate loaf cake a go. This is the first time I’ve ever made a cake through instinct alone (good job I was writing down how much of everything I was using as I went along!), and amazingly it turned out really well. I bunged all the ingredients into our Kitchen Aid mixer (yup, I’m technical like that), before tipping them out into a greased (dairy-free, natch) loaf tin. I then baked it in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees c) for 45 minutes, until a skewer came out of the cake clean. It really is THAT easy, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it (tis perfect with a cuppa!).

You will need:

  • 3 mugs* self-raising flour
  • 1 mug caster sugar
  • 2 packets of dairy-free chocolate buttons
  • half a cup dairy-free cocoa powder
  • handful of chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 mug hazelnut milk (I used Alpro)
  • A large banana, mashed

*I just used a standard-sized tea mug for measuring most of the ingredients.

Linking up with Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesdays! 

Lately…

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Walking hand in hand with cousin Elsie// Watching Adam play cricket the other Sunday- a real olde worlde village location!// Our little bath dweller, he can’t get enough of water// Our pot of hydrangeas flourishing, I love looking at them from the kitchen// I love this playsuit I picked up for Sasha, it just screams ‘summer’!// An afternoon baking// Peach and mint ice tea at a Cafe near Borough Market- all the best enjoyed when one child is at preschool and the other is napping in the buggy next to you!